The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday vacated 88 decisions by the Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York that prevented the trustee tasked with liquidating the remaining assets of Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme from seizing foreign property that had been transferred out of the US prior to Madoff’s arrest.
Madoff was convicted of defrauding investors as part of a ponzi scheme and sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009. Since then, an independent trustee, Irving Picard, has been liquidating the remaining assets of Madoff’s company in order to return money to defrauded investors.
In 2017 the Department of Justice began to distribute restitution to Madoff’s victims. However, Picard alleged in bankruptcy court that before being arrested Madoff moved large sums of money and other assets into foreign countries, and that without seizing these assets victims could not be fully compensated for their losses. The bankruptcy court dismissed the motions to seize these foreign assets, stating that federal bankruptcy law prohibited them from seizing overseas assets that have been transferred from the original recipient to another foreign entity. The Second Circuit disagreed, stating that the law did not bar this kind of action when there was a “clear domestic justification” for the seizure and that the seizure of these foreign assets was necessary to continue the restitution payments to Madoff’s victims.